Last updateTue, 02 Jun 2020 11pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Customer -v- Collector

What's wrong with consuming? Nothing, if it brings genuine pleasure to the individual and that person buys within their means. When it comes to jewelry, collecting would be the better way to go - always.

Collecting involves several aspects, some of which are acquired skills. For the individual who wants to evolve into a bona fide collector, here are some bullet points to consider.

A jewelry enthusiast usually has or is developing a theme for their compilation. It starts with personal preferences, or even an emblem of their life experience. Does one love all things Asian? Are they well traveled to South America? Are they an antique buff? What is their family heritage, and what colors speak to them? And today you might add, are they a fervent ecologist?

When that is defined - and mind you, a collector can devote time, energy and money to forming several types of collections - then the next consideration is the quality and scope of the collection.

Collecting has to start somewhere, within the means of the individual. But eventually it works its way into a swap-out and trade-up scenario. Earlier pieces that may not hold their appeal, or are of lesser quality, may be replaced by superior choices of finer value over time.

The more one learns about their particular niche, the broader their knowledge should become about their object of affection. That means a finer tuned aesthetic of what contributes to value and a desire to accumulate the most comprehensive representation of their subject. There are old things, collectibles, vintage items, heirlooms, true antiques, and museum quality jewels. The differences in each group are subtle to obvious.

Same goes for sapphire. One can start out with a lab created stone, because they adore the eye catching color. As they learn more about the material, they want the genuine deal, even if it has been enhanced. Eventually this person's interest drives them to understand how country of origin contributes to the value, and occasionally makes for a visual recognition of their stone. Ultimately they may search for a top quality Burma sapphire or another superb specimen because of their extensive knowledge of sapphire.
Dog lovers and animal jewelry collectors would go wild over this petite vintage intaglio doggy pendant from eFiligree.com.

Jarrett-Feb-MorinCollectors of organic gemstones or sea life jewelry will treasure this elegant coral, gold, and diamond seahorse brooch, Courtesy of Gregoré Morin.

Our fluctuating economy has made comparers out of all consumers - do I want this or that - because more money is being allocated to areas to which we previously paid little attention, like gas or food for instance.
So while the merchant has no control over that aspect of our economy, he or she does have absolute involvement in how they might assist their customers in re-assessing their buying habits. Empowering the consumer with the attribute of becoming collector versus consumer effectively helps that shopper to focus in and ‘buy on purpose' rather than breeze around the counters at your store without a plan. Being a collector helps fortify the sense that your customer is not a frivolous conspicuous consumer - but rather a thoughtful expert in development - and that shift in paradigm often overcomes their objections to the sale.

These prior questions posed respectfully to your customer can strengthen a bond of loyalty and allegiance with your customer who sees you as being interested in them as a distinctive individual with unique life experiences, and that's a good thing. You can't get that kind of bonding from the Internet. Try this with your veteran or new customers and see what happens. You may be helping these patrons embark on a lifetime adventure of learning that enriches their lives as they take pride in becoming an expert in something they love. And who knows, you may start getting requests to help them in their hunt for that next fabulous piece of jewelry.


Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.